Ash Wednesday Scripture Readings: Joel 2:12-18, 2 Cor 5:20-6:2, Mk 6:1, 16-18
In Monday’s blog I mentioned the quest for a sincere heart. The prayerful cry of the heart is expressed in Psalm 51. Verse 10 pleads:
“God, create a clean heart in me” … and vs. 17:
“My sacrifice is this broken spirit, you will not scorn this crushed and broken heart. ”
Lent, which begins today, is a time of quiet contemplative prayer and of rebuilding relationships of faith with God. It is a season in which Christians look inwards at their hearts and allow them to be transformed by love. As we draw aside and let God be God and we humbly acknowledge our limitations in our humanity, we seek healing and restoration.
“My eyes are drawn to the person of humbled and contrite spirit, who trembles at my word.” Isaiah 66:2
Along my travels I have gathered many stones. It is the heart of stone that has been the source of my deepest contemplation. In the most trying of times I came upon the blackened small stone of perfect shape. I had been in much anguish and my prayers reflected my heartfelt cries for help. As I wandered at waters edge on a lonely beach of clean sand, I paused and looked down to find the most unseemly treasure.
It came to me as gift with the capacity to bring me to tears. I was overwhelmed and in awe of how strongly I identified with my own heart of stone and failings. Yet gradually it transformed me. I slowly came to love the black heart of stone. I came to accept that in all forms, hearts are lovable. I began to forgive myself and receive forgiveness and healing. I encountered the living God in Spirit and Truth.
No matter how dark or desolate the place may be where you find yourself. God is there ahead of you to meet you, sustain you and embrace you. In Lent we are reminded that we are all “prodigal” children, who have strayed on our paths, but in turning back we are welcomed. We come back to our senses, and sense and know that we have been heard and experience merciful forgiveness.
Prayer is our relationship with the divine. Prayer is the union with Spirit. It is the essence of our relationship and substance of spiritual direction. Prayer is personal not preformated. Pray as you can from the heart. Simply go to your sacred /secret place and enter in to the quiet with an expectant heart.
Psalm 51 and Isaiah 66 are readings you may find helpful at this time. By clicking the link to the NIV Bible on the Select Reading page, you will gain direct access to these and other texts.
On the Prayer page you will also find a copy of an examen which may also be of interest.
You may enjoy song or instrumental “Out of Ashes” from ‘This is the Time” Album by Michael Mangan